As Ottawa finishes September with the highest number of new COVID-19 cases of any month since the pandemic began, the city's medical officer of health urged residents to stick strictly to a few close contacts, or risk letting the illness spiral out of control.
September ends with 64 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, raising the total number of confirmed cases this month to 1,355.
During a video update Wednesday, Dr. Vera Etches called this month's numbers "an alarming increase."
"When people are testing positive at the rate we're seeing, the disruption to society and the pressure on our hospitals and long-term care homes is too much to sustain critical services," Etches warned.
I'm asking people to be more careful right now. We can't manage the level of COVID in our community continuing to grow. - Dr. Vera Etches
She again asked Ottawans to limit their close contact to people with whom they live, plus one or two others such as caregivers, "or we risk closure of businesses and schools."
With anyone outside that tight circle of close contacts, people should maintain a two-metre distance and wear a mask, especially indoors. That includes restaurants, Etches said.
"I am advising that you don't go out to a restaurant with [people] outside of your household if you're going to eat and drink, which is generally what you do in restaurants, because that becomes close contact. Then you're sitting within two metres without a mask on," she said.
"That is a change. I'm asking people to be more careful right now. We can't manage the level of COVID in our community continuing to grow."
2 more deaths, hospitalizations climb
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said Wednesday two more people have died from COVID-19, while 59 more cases are now considered resolved.
Forty-three of Wednesday's new cases are people under the age of 40, most of them in their 20s or 30s.
September has been a record-breaking month in Ottawa, for all the wrong reasons:
- The 1,355 new cases reported by OPH in September represent the highest tally of any month.
- The number of active cases rose higher in September than in any other month.
There have been 20 deaths linked to COVID-19 in September, the most since May. Meanwhile, public health officials have declared the pandemic's second wave underway.
Ottawa has now had 4,322 confirmed cases, including 685 active, 3,350 resolved and 287 deaths.
There are currently 19 patients in hospital being treated for COVID-19, three in intensive care.
OPH hasn't declared any new outbreaks in schools or hospitals, but more than 75 schools in Ottawa have had at least one student or staff member test positive.
Like Ottawa, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and Renfrew County and District Health Unit are finishing September with more new cases than in any other month since the pandemic began.
More testing is being performed now than during the pandemic's first wave in the spring, but public health officials are asking only those who fit certain criteria, including having symptoms, to get tested.
The reports from OPH don't necessarily reflect how many people tested positive for COVID-19 on the day they're made public; rather, they indicate the number of new cases OPH is notified of as of 2 p.m. the previous day.
Ontario added 625 confirmed cases to the provincial total on Wednesday.
According to projections released Wednesday morning, the province says it could see 1,000 new cases a day next month. CBC came to a similar conclusion earlier this week.
Quebec logged 838 more cases on Wednesday.